Day 6 of #16DaysofActivism
By Stephanie Mooney
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 (Girls not Brides). Early marriage violates a girl’s rights to health, education and opportunities in the workplace. It can often expose girls to violence throughout their lives and trap them in poverty. This is an issue that cuts across countries, cultures and religions.
Pakistan continues to rank near the bottom of the gender inequality index, with Pakistani women facing terrible inequality in access to health care, education and work. One of the solutions to assisting girls to escape discriminatory customary practices like early child marriage is providing education and skill building opportunities.
HCR faces these issues in some of the communities in which we work. Recently, in a village in Pakistan, an HCR associate was confronted with child marriage at a women’s empowerment session. A girl, aged 15, had an eighteen-month-old baby and was married to a 45-year-old man. She is a mother, when she herself is still a child. In a culture that tends to be patriarchal, the birth of a son is celebrated as boys are considered assets who will provide support for ageing parents, whereas a daughter is often considered a liability. This traditional culture, along with poverty, reinforces practices like early child marriages.
HCR has made gender a major priority in all its projects. We believe that human rights are essential to the full development of individuals and communities, and that gender equality is a basic human right. In Pakistan we use media to continue to work towards the education of girls and women and target many of the underlying issues that keep them in a cycle of poverty.